How Bulls ‘reserves’ can exact revenge on Pumas
CAPE TOWN - The last time the Bulls faced the Pumas – on January 10 in the Currie Cup – it was a rather green-looking visiting side at Mbombela Stadium.
Coach Jake White had rested most of his first-choice players as the Pretoria side had already topped the league log and secured a home semi-final, and that decision played a major role in the Pumas pulling off a sensation 44-14 victory.
Two months later, the two teams face off once more, and although there isn’t much at stake again in terms of a competition, the Pumas will fancy yet another Bulls scalp in the Preparation Series at Mbombela Stadium tomorrow (7pm kick-off).
With White likely to pick another relatively inexperienced side in order to build depth for the Rainbow Cup, here are three ways the Bulls ‘reserves’ can exact revenge on the Pumas …
1 Get stuck in physically
Bulls lock Jan Uys already spoke last week about how his team need to be “just mentally (ready), we must believe we are physically ready”. In the Currie Cup game, White fielded many rookie forwards such as Joe van Zyl, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Janko Swanepoel and WJ Steenkamp. It should be a stronger pack this time around, with the more streetwise Nizaam Carr and Mornay Smith bringing some experience, guile and physicality.
Steenkamp and Swanepoel, along with Gerhard Steenekamp, were stand-outs in the rout of Eastern Province last week, and will need to stand their ground and not be intimidated by hardened Pumas forwards such as Willie Engelbrecht, captain Pieter Jansen van Vuuren and Morgan Naudé.
2 Shut down Devon Williams
While the former Western Province wing has become a stalwart at fullback for the Pumas, it was as a flyhalf that Williams cut the Bulls defence to shreds in the Currie Cup match.
Now 28, he still possesses that wing speed, and the manner in which he took on the Bulls’ defensive line with ball-in-hand, and varying his play cleverly with his passing and kicking game, left the visitors floundering.
The Pumas are likely to be even stronger in that regard tomorrow, as first-choice flyhalf Eddie Fouché is back from injury and should wear the No 10 jersey. That would give Williams even more space to operate in at fullback.
3 Sort out the defence
Whether it was out wide or around the fringes, the Bulls just seemed overwhelmed in defence in the January defeat. They let the home side to exploit space out wide, behind the front line and allowed Jimmy Stonehouse’s team to get offloads away in the tackle.
The Bulls may have lacked some motivation and structure the last time around, as they had already secured a home semi-final, and the team selected didn’t have much time to prepare.
It should be different in that regard tomorrow, as the ‘reserves’ played against EP on February 28 and are pushing for spots in the Bulls’ strongest line-up.